John Crosby

John Crosby (Handout photo courtesy of Team Melo / May 8, 2012)

Every offseason in Baltimore, some of the city’s top players transfer high schools in search of what they hope is a better basketball situation.

From an outsider’s perspective, it might have appeared that John Crosby was doing the same when he left City last spring and landed at Poly in the fall. But the 6-foot-3, 186-pound point guard was hardly putting basketball first when he left one of the city’s top magnet schools for another.

“It was more of an academic decision,” Crosby said. “At Poly, they have the engineering type of field. That’s what I want to do. I want to be a chemical engineer. I just thought it would be better to go to an engineering high school, graduate from there and go to a good engineering college. It was just a great fit for me.”

Crosby, who played on the Knights’ junior varsity team as a freshman, had already been identified by college coaches as a Division I prospect before he decided to leave The Castle on the Hill. His basketball talent put him on the high-major radar. But it is Crosby’s academic profile – combined with his on-court skills – that make him such a coveted recruit.

Darrick “Baseline” Oliver noticed Crosby years ago when the young point guard was still playing rec ball at Bentalou in West Baltimore. Oliver, a longtime Mount Royal coach, finally got the chance to coach Crosby this spring with Team Melo.

“He’s really grown and [taken] his game to another level,” Oliver said. “I give the Poly guys a lot of credit. They did a tremendous job with him working on his game.”

Crosby said getting acclimated to Poly wasn’t an issue at all. The sophomore said he averaged around 16 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Engineers during the 2011-12 season. And in the classroom, he excelled in the school’s science, technology and math-based curriculum.

“This quarter I had a 3.8. My overall average is close to a 4.0,” Crosby said. “I think that plays a big part because a lot of coaches … want a kid who they already know is going to quality. They don’t have to worry about that. That just eliminates that problem very quick. Me already being able to quality, I’ll just keep working hard and stay that way. I’ve got a lot of support at Poly.”

Crosby’s role with Team Melo this spring has been similar to what he did during the winter at Poly. Oliver gave him the ball and asked him to lead. The results, Oliver said, have been excellent.

“He’s just been a great addition, man, a great addition to the team,” Oliver said. “He’s a true point guard that can knock down the open shot. His decision-making is great. He’s getting better defensively. He’s buying in and he’s doing well. … He has the ball in his hands a lot. He scores the ball a lot. His play turned right over from high school. [It’s the] same style of play: get up and down the floor.”

Thanks to his play with Team Melo this spring, Crosby recently earned an offer from Rutgers – his first scholarship. Georgetown, Indiana, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Stanford, Texas and Washington are among the other high-major programs that have expressed interest in Crosby. While it’s early in the recruiting process, a few schools are standing out.

“I really love Stanford,” Crosby said. “Actually, I’ve been looking at Stanford since probably my eighth-grade year. That’s when I really found out about them and read about them. It’s a good school. I love their academics; I love their basketball team, also. I got a chance to meet the coach several times. I like Stanford, I like Washington, I like Ohio State, I like Missouri – they’re a great program – I like Virginia, that’s a great program, and Rutgers. But all of them [have a good balance with academics]. It’s not just basketball. It’s equal between [basketball and academics].”

Crosby said he’s looking forward to the rest of the AAU season. Earning that first offer has made him hungrier for more.

“I was very excited,” Crosby said. “It just opened up many more doors. Being offered by Rutgers, it’s so early. It just made me want to keep working hard and just staying humble.”